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Discover Our Small Luxe Hotels

l'Horizon pool

Uniquely Palm Springs

By Barbara Beckley

It’s true. Only in Palm Springs will you find so many small hotels with luxury, style and indulgence. Driven by movie and industry big shots who wanted to hideaway in lavish intimacy – and contemporary innkeepers who pair their sumptuous accommodations with luxe amenities and services. Palm Springs is big on small posh properties. From French glamor and mid-century extravagance to Mediterranean magnificence. For just the two of you or family and friends – Palm Springs offers the best in petite luxury.

Crème de la Crème 

Perhaps the most elegant of Palm Springs’ small hotels is The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn.  It began as a millionaire’s private getaway in 1925 and never looked back. Richly appointed, the Italianate style mansion has hosted legends including Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, Marion Davies and even Albert Einstein!

willows

It was designed by the architect who designed the Los Angeles Herald Examiner building with icon Julia Morgan. Each of the 17 unique guestrooms pamper with Egyptian cotton towels, mini bars, refrigerators, and surprises – such as balconies or terraces, oversized showers and priceless antiques.

Daily Perks

Daily perks befit a country estate including a three-course gourmet sit-down breakfast in the formal dining room overlooking the inn’s 50-foot waterfall. Enjoy afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres in the lounge and grand terrace. Iced tea is served by the heated pool and Jacuzzi and you also have access to concierge services.

willows dining room

Which room to choose?

Acres of terraced gardens with spectacular views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley invite exploring. Sit on Einstein’s favorite stone bench and enjoy his favorite view (maybe channel a theorem or two). Which room to choose?

The poshest of the posh is the Marion Davies Room, where legend says the silent film star was a long-term guest in the 1950s. You’ll feel like a millionaire with its elaborately carved bed, imposing fireplace, formal sitting area, Juliette balcony overlooking the San Jacinto Mountains, and amazing bathroom suite featuring a two-person claw-foot tub, marble shower, silver chandelier and chaise lounge.

History Note: The Willows, in the 1950’s, overlooked the famous Desert Inn (this land now includes the blocks around the Art Museum, downtown park, and Kimpton Rowan hotel). Marion loved Palm Springs so much, in 1955 she purchased the Desert Inn.

Willows-Marion bathroom

Also, the Library Room wows with a coffered ceiling, Cherrywood hand-carved fireplace, garden patio, antique writing desk and bath with an antique pedestal sink and contemporary two-person shower.

Einstein often stayed in his namesake, The Einstein Room, now with Art Deco furnishings, a king bed and French doors opening onto a private garden patio with mountain views.

Willows-Einstein room

French Flair 

Remember those photos of Bridgette Bardot on the French Riviera in the 1960s?  Live the life at Dive Palm Springs, a 21+ homage to the sexy ’60s French beach culture and one of the newest luxe Palm Springs small hotls. Luxuriate in one of 11 unique guest rooms and relax by the restored Libott pool (Dive was built in 1954) in a striped lounger or cabana.  Release the stress in the 12-person hot tub or find your serenity in a swinging chair by the Zen Koi pond in The Orchard “secret garden.”

dive doi pond

Inside the rooms – ooh la la!

Book Le Reve and revel amidst custom wallpaper and a ceiling mural by Christian Lacroix. Or The Paris Suite, with two rooms featuring a 1919 belle époque Parisian brass and copper elevator cage converted into a queen bed and lounge! Plus, enjoy a full-size bar with full-size premium libations including Dom Perignon and vintage glassware.  Room design include Christian Lacroix wallpaper, vintage Parisian chandeliers, an original copper clad window from the Flatiron Building in NYC (1903) as an oversized wall mirror. Guests also enjoy a private patio and private entrance.

Dive Palm Springs guestroom

Or The Orchard Suite featuring a private patio with a hot tub – and – the only 3-hole golf green in all of Palm Springs!

All rooms feature Belgian linen-top mattresses, designer and antique French furnishings, original hand-drawn wall murals by fashion illustrator Gabriella, vintage-style refrigerators, curated mini bars, and bright red or orange or turquoise tile bathrooms. Many have a full-length smoked glass two-way mirror between the bedroom and the shower, and outdoor patios with oversized daybeds.

 Boho Chic & Freda Kahlo Luxe  

Everything is at your fingertips in La Serena Villas. A bright and sunny Freda Kahlo-esque Mediterranean garden filled with 18 unique villas, the acclaimed Azucar indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar, lavish Sugar High rooftop lounge, and Whispers Spa, complete with its own pool. This Palm Springs small hotel is located in the heart of downtown.

la serena

Originally opened in 1933, La Serena Villas was redeveloped as an adults-only luxury property in 2016 featuring all the amenities of a 5-star hotel. Poster beds with curtain sheers, Frette linens, L’Occitane skin and bath products begin your luxe experience. Then individually selected furniture and décor, French doors opening onto private patios with outdoor claw-foot tubs, fire pits and built-in benches make each villa a dream come true.

La Serena villa room

Villa # 19 is especially dreamy with a separate bedroom, living room accented with a tiled fireplace, full kitchen, and separate powder room for guests, bath with a huge shower and claw foot tub; a sizeable back patio with a second outdoor claw foot tub, fire pit and seating, and a large front patio.

If you desire more space, it can be combined with Villa #16 for a two-bedroom suite.

At cocktail and mealtimes follow the garden path to Azucar for Spanish-influenced contemporary cuisine or order poolside. Enjoy cocktails and appetizers around the outdoor fireplace atop Boho-chic Sugar High, with 360-views framed by the San Jacinto Mountains.

Note: If you want to bring Fido, yes, La Serena has pet-friendly villas. 

Old Hollywood Meets the 21st Century

Hotel residences with the luxury of a home, that’s what describes your experience at this Palm Springs small hotel.  Amin Casa  is a 1928 Spanish Mediterranean jewel and former estate of silver screen star Gloria Swanson. (Rumor has it her guests included Joe Kennedy.) Featuring eight exclusive two and one-bedroom adults-only residences and bungalows, the ambiance is luxurious and club-like.

Amin Casa Rolls & MG Together
Source: Amin Casa

A perfect home-away-from-home for a weekend or the season, with hardwood floors, tile fireplaces, custom rugs, commissioned wall photographs, posh robes and slippers. Thoughtful furnishings and fully functioning kitchens for your enjoyment and for entertaining friends make this a great choice for longer stays. Beautiful gardens, a pool, and gracious intuitive service make Amin Casa so popular one couple is booked through 2025!

Stay in Swanson’s personal residence and relive the Hollywood glamor with its grand entrance and living area, dining room for four, outdoor patio, two-bedrooms and two baths. Or the old world elegance of the Swanson Bungalow, her original guest house, with an elegant entrance, living room, bedroom and bath.

Or contemporary style of the two-bedroom Amin Luxury Residence featuring an open floor-plan illuminated by skylights.

gloria swanson palm springs amin casa

All come with relaxing in-residence Aromatherapy diffusers and 5-star perks including a concierge to make your dining and entertainment arrangements, in-residence gourmet meal delivery, in-residence professional massage services, a private trainer for exercise – even a mobile car wash service!

 Mid-Century Magic

Modernism architect legend William F. Cody went above and beyond designing L’Horizon Resort & Spa in 1952 as a private residence for Hollywood heavyweight Jack Wrather (his credits include TV classics “Lassie” and “The Lone Ranger”) and guesthouses for his VIP friends. In addition to experiencing one of Cody’s finest works – you’re luxuriating in the bungalows where celebs from Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe to Ronald Reagan and other U.S. presidents stayed and played.

Re-envisioned in 2015 by contemporary celebrity designer Steve Hermann, L’Horizon’s 25 low-slung, glass-walled bungalows ooze Mad Men opulence with high-end mid-century furnishings, marble baths, outdoor showers, Frette Linens, Le Labo toiletries and private patios. High hedges guarantee exclusivity within its three green acres of zero-edge poolside and spa splendor.

Choose the Fireplace Junior Suite Bungalow and imagine what Marilyn did. It was her personal bungalow and rumor says she loved to use the outdoor shower and cozy up by the copper-clad fireplace.

For ultimate privacy and luxe, The Residence, Wrather’s original home, has its own full-size pool, sunken seating around the mid-century fireplace, a dining room, wet bar and full kitchen. It can be a one- or two-bedroom bungalow. You’re choice.

l Horizon room

SoPa

A new addition with the Hermann make-over is SoPa, a hip open-air restaurant. As a guest, you get to enjoy breakfast – including Breakfast Cocktails – perhaps the “Perfect Gentleman” with Bourbon and champagne – and lunch, along with dinner. Also in-room dining from the SoPa menu. (Non-guests can come for dinner only.)

The Spa

The pampering continues at The Spa, and indoor-outdoor affair, with treatments under white canvas cabanas and private outdoor showers.

Amenities & Movie Stars 

Bask in old Hollywood movie star glam with ultra-modern amenities at Villa Royale, a posh retreat ever since Olympic figure skating champ Sonja Henie built it as her private estate in 1947 and hosted stars from Mickey Rooney to screen writer Irving Shulman. Book a two-bedroom Impala Villa and luxuriate in the large living room with a fully stocked wet bar, gourmet Smith Tea; private patio and bath with a glass-enclosed tile shower.

villa royale

Indulge in extra special services beginning with “Paige,” the 24/7 virtual concierge. Text Paige for anything from fresh towels to the best cocktails in town! The unique “Spiritual Menu” offers a library of spiritual books delivered to your room. Tall palms shade its three pools with private cabanas; fountains and garden courtyards. Its 38 villas sport contemporary modernism décor and eye-popping commissioned artwork.

villa royale pool

Dine on-property at the intimate dinner-only Del Rey bar and restaurant. Enjoy cocktails and tapas-style fare in Hollywood-style booths by the tile fireplace or around the fire pit under the stars.

Del Rey Restaurant
Credit: Del Rey

Love your doggie? So does the villa, with pet beds, bowls, toys, treats and a list of local pet resources.

Fame & Fortune

The luxury of one of Palm Springs’ coolest night spots right on property, dreamy bungalows and soothing amenities are just the beginning at the Ingleside Inn. Set behind high hedges and anchored by Melvyn’s Restaurant and after-dinner hot spot The Casablanca Lounge; the Ingleside’s 30 rooms and suites are Palm Springs perfection.

courtyard fountain

Opened in 1922 by heirs to the Pierce Arrow Motor Company (America’s Rolls-Royce) as an “invitation only” escape, you’re sleeping where Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and the like slept and (no doubt) partied. In the ‘70s, entrepreneur Melvyn (Mel) Habor skyrocketed the restaurant and lounge to stardom as the see-and-be-seen spot for everyone from Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore and Lucille Ball to John Travolta and hip hop star Nas.

pool at Ingleside Inn

As a guest, you enjoy exclusive breakfast at and room service by Melvyn’s Restaurant; comp cruiser bicycles, a pool, pampering at adjacent Estrella Spa and luxe accommodations with plush velvets, curated mini bars, terraces, poster beds, Frette linens, Denver mattresses and newly redone baths with two-person showers.

Book a villa and enjoy posh privacy. The Haber Suite features a living room, bedroom, two baths and French doors inside its own walled compound. Melvyn’s Suite has a living room, bedroom, two baths and a courtyard patio with plush outdoor seating.

Indulge All Your Senses

Mediterranean style on the outside, modernist minimalist on the inside, with morning pastries from Palm Springs’ most sought-after breakfast restaurant, Alcazar Palm Springs is luxury for all the senses. Its 34 unique rooms include quirky original art, Italian linens, fireplaces, private patios and pool suites.

pool and mountains

The 700-square-foot One-Bedroom Suite is among the largest with a living room; and also can be reserved as a two-bedroom, two bath suite. Or, bliss out in the poolside King Deluxe, with a private soaking tub on the private terrace. Or the second-story 210-square-foot King Room, with a cozy fireplace.

Soak and float in the garden pool. Pedal around town on complimentary Townie Bikes. There’s even a business center (if you must…). Each morning, Alcazar puts out coffee, espresso and fresh pastries from Cheeky’s, Palm Springs’ favorite breakfast restaurant, conveniently attached to Alcazar; as is sister eatery Birba, for easy evening cocktails and unusually flavorful Italian cuisine.

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